8 Suggestions For Good Report Writing
Posted November 16, 2017 in Process Service
By Andrew Gowing
When I worked for my dad’s private investigation company conducting surveillance on worker’s comp claimants, one of the most important things our client cared about was the written report. Probably secondary only to the actual film of the claimant that was obtained, was the written history of the events that took place.
A written report, aligned with the facts in the film, was very hard to beat. In contrast to that, a report that contradicted times and events of the film, would prove to be harmful to your client’s case. A poorly written report may show that you were unreliable and did not recall the facts accurately, which may even get your film tossed as evidence.
Good report writing is essential in our line of work. Whether you are working on a difficult filing with very detailed instructions or you are trying to get an evasive individual served, a good report can prove to be a valuable asset even if and when you are unable to complete the assignment.
Here are 8 Suggestions for what should be included in a good report:
- Use short, but complete sentences. Use correct grammar and spelling. Make sure to write legibly. More often than not, somebody else will have to read your report and prepare the proof of service, so a clear and concise report is key.
- Use precise descriptions. This includes events, colors of cars and houses. Hopefully a vivid, and precise report will also help you remember the events more accurately should you ever have to take the stand.
6 Point Description (Race, Gender, Age, Height, Weight, [Hair-Eyes-Distinctive Marks])
- I know this can sometimes get difficult and somewhat convoluted, especially when it comes to determining some ethnicities or race. Do your best, some are easier than others. For height, take a mental picture of where they come up to against their front door or compare them to your height. Distinctive marks could really prove to be useful, such as birth marks or tattoos.
License Plate Numbers
- Useful for further investigation if and when necessary. If it is a question, a search on a license plate could help verify that you were or are at the right place.
Were the Lights On or Off?
- Usually a key indicator whether or not anybody was or is home. This information could help in determining if a person is evasive and you need to try to serve them by other means.
Is the Mail Picked Up?
- Similar to the above point. Has anybody been home since you have been there last? Help verify if they are on vacation or no longer living at the residence. Be careful about snooping around a closed mail box, remember that it is a Federal crime to remove mail from a mailbox.
List Accurate Times to the Minute
- Do not round off to the minute. I would suggest using your cell phone clock because it is usually synced with your carrier’s exact time which is believed to be the more precise. When it comes down to it, just tell the truth of when the papers were served and when exactly major events did, in fact, occur. Establishing trust and reliability in the times recorded in your reports is key to gaining return business from your clients.
Not Home per Whom?
- Always get a name of the person you speak with when attempting to serve a paper. If you are told your subject is not available or is not home, get the person’s name. If it is a business, get their title or position at the business. This will make it easier in tracking down more information later down the road if and when necessary.
Please stay tuned for more CCPS Blog posts as well as upcoming CCPS Workshops coming to your area!